Grizzly Bear That Attacked in Yellowstone Was Sick

A detailed report about the health of a mother grizzly bear that killed one man and mauled two others at a campsite near Yellowstone National Park in July showed the bear suffered from hunger, parasites and was in poor condition.


The 70-page report released on Monday by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found the bear was in poor general health and blamed her condition on having to exist on a vegetarian diet. A belly full of parasites further complicated her situation.


The necropsy also found that she was not accustomed to eating human food or pet food and had probably not eaten any for at least two years. This led investigators to conclude the mother bear was not in regular contact with people, which is a common reason for bears to have run-ins with humans.


But while wildlife officials agreed the bear was struggling to feed herself and her cubs, they did not accept that as the specific reason for her aggressive behavior or why she targeted the campers.


We looked at food habits, body condition of the bear, past behaviors — none of those stand out as a reason that would indicate why this bear would do this,” said team investigation leader Chris Servheen with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


“The reality is grizzly bears are predators,” said Warden Capt. Sam Sheppard with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. “You never know when they’re going to revert to a predatory response.”


The investigation also concluded the bear did not have rabies or other diseases and the campers had done nothing that would accidently lure a bear into their campsite. 


The Attack On The Campers

The Associated Press reported the grizzly bear and her cubs had been seen near the Soda Butte Campground near Cooke City at least two other times. There had been rumors from residents that a photographer had been baiting the bears with food.  But those rumors were never substantiated.


The attack began at 2 a.m. on July 28 while Ronald Singer, his girlfriend Deb Freele and their dog slept in their tent.  They woke up when an “unknown” animal bit Singer’s leg.  He punched the animal and it ran off, but fifteen minutes later Freele was bitten on her upper arm.  The bear shook her, but then left after she played dead.


The bear apparently moved on to the campsite where Kevin Kammer was sleeping.  He was pulled from his tent and killed.  The hungry grizzly consumed “a significant portion of Kammer’s torso.”


The mother bear and her cubs were captured the next day at the Soda Butte Campground. DNA tests confirmed her as the attacker and she was euthanized.


Her three cubs are now at the Billings Zoo. They are scheduled to be exhibited to the public this fall.


Kevin Frey, a bear specialist with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks said, “She obviously was hurting for higher value foods.  What caused her mentally to do that, we don’t know.”  There are a lot of bears that are nutritionally challenged at times that don’t exhibit that type of behavior.”



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W. C
W. C4 months ago

Thanks for the information.

William C
William C4 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

Veronica G.
Veronica G7 years ago

I am sorry that this bear and her cubs had to go through this tragedy. The cubs lost a mother, families lost loved ones BUT we are..everyday stepping into nature and destroying the food chain more and more. These animals are merely hunting and if you sleep in a snake pit, you're going to get bitten. I don't agree that we as humans should be in "there" house! This is wild land and humans are killing what these animals eat. We are lower on the food chain when we go into the wilderness...especially unarmed. Again, I am sorry for the families loss but I think there are better places to vacation. Safer, human vacation spots. Bears don't go to Disneyland.

Sharon Poelstra
Sharon Poelstra7 years ago

It's very sad that not 1, but 4 bears were lost to the wilderness and their DNA has been taken from the ever shrinking wild gene pool. That is the real tragedy here.

Yes, indeed, the cubs would not have survived without their mother and now they will almost certainly all survive and live out their lives with proper nutrition. Likely only one of the 3 would have survived to adulthood in the wild.

It is the human practice to euthanize bears that kill humans. Saving the cubs was more humane than killing them all even though the fact that this sow had 3 cubs, not just one or two most certainly contributed to her poor nutrition and stress.

Thus our zoos have become prisons for those bears that have the misfortune to come into contact with the most dangerous predators on earth - humans.

Jane R.
Jane R7 years ago

Sad story. This might not have happened it the bears had enough to eat. I understand they are wild animals & should not be fed by humans to begin with. But apparently this bear could not find food for herself or her babies. Sad that they had to kill her.

Vivianne Mosca-Clark

I agree with Allyson M. Humans have taken over all of the animals homes most every where. As the planet goes through it's paces, food and climate changes make for a difficult time for growing food. Food that grew well before is now not doing so well. Human food as well as animal food. The weather is changing, in the West Coast we are having longer Summer (and hotter) , and longer Winters (more colder) Spring and Fall are getting shorter. All of the changes are making it harder to live if you are a human or an animal.

Deb F.
Deb F.7 years ago

I just wanted to point out a misprint in your article.
"The attack began at 2 a.m. on July 28 while Ronald Singer, his girlfriend Deb Freele and their dog slept in their tent. "

Deb Freele was in site #11 and not Ronald Singers girlfriend. They were in site #16.

SANDRA R7 years ago

Poor bear!! Thank you Sharon!!!

Mary Ellen W.
Mary Wightman7 years ago

It drives me mad when they say "it is a wild animal and you never know when a wild animal is gonna revert back to prdatory instincts" and then they decide to kill it... Well, if we never know then why aren't we all out there with uzies shooting everything that moves..... Gee maybe because it is ridiculous to shoot a wild animal for behaving, well, like a wild animal. We are invading their territory, we shouldn't be so shocked when this happens...... sad as it is for the family.

Bernadette Gilbride

I Feel bad about what happen. I don't know why they had to kill her. Don't get me wrong i do feel bad for what happen to the poor people,but sometime we are to fast to kill.